A pastoral critique of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC) methods of bereavement counselling : retrieving the Eggon indigenous awhiku concept of bereavement management.
This study focuses on the exploration of the nature of the Eggon indigenous Awhiku concept of bereavement management and the methods of the ERCC (Church) bereavement counselling. The purpose of the study is to engage the Eggon indigenous Awhiku concept of bereavement management and the current ERCC methods of bereavement counselling into a critical dialogue in order to formulate and develop a comprehensive model of bereavement counselling for the ERCC. Using inculturation as the main tool in this exploration, I argue that by consciously allowing Christian faith and the local culture(s) to engage in a dialogue, the Christian reality will be appropriated from within the perspectives and resources of the Eggon culture to challenge and transform the current ERCC model of bereavement counselling, thereby resulting in the comprehensive model of bereavement counselling. The thesis argues that the current methods of bereavement counselling used by the ERCC among the Eggon Christians are not sufficient. Reasons for this include the ignorance exhibited by the early Christian missionaries who brought the gospel but did not give adequate attention to the Eggon traditional practices of bereavement management in order to incorporate the positive aspects into the Christian model of bereavement counselling. In addition, there is the influence of westernization, urbanization, globalization, multi-ethnic and cultural associations, the internet and other technology in general. The study also finds that many Eggon youths are ignorant of the Eggon traditional methods of bereavement management and its significance. This is due to external influences mentioned above, and to their migration at an early age with their parents, in search of greener pastures to make a living, or to the cities looking for job opportunities. I argue that the failure on the part of the early missionaries as well as the indigenous ERCC leadership to employ an intercultural approach to bereavement counselling is the major cause of the problem of increasing isolation and loneliness of those in need of care as a result of a diminished community support network (involvement). The result is that many bereaved families and those faced with other crises are left feeling isolated and alone as people tend to be more concerned with their immediate families, relegating the accompaniment of others in crisis situations to the pastor or the elders of the church. The question that the study wishes to answer is: How can the ERCC provide bereavement counselling among the Eggon people taking into account their indigenous Awhiku concept of bereavement management for effective healing? In attempting to answer this question three theories were used to test the church’s methods of bereavement counselling, namely inculturation theory, the theory of incorporation and community theory. The study is structured into eight chapters. Participants in the study are categorized into three groups: the ERCC ministers/church elders, elderly members of the Eggon community and the bereaved families. Through interviews and focus group discussions with participants, relevant data was generated and subjected to rigorous analysis. Most of the participants, including the ERCC ministers and some of the early missionaries, acknowledged that they have taken no notice of the model Eggon people used to provide as a coping mechanism to one another during bereavement. This thesis proposes a comprehensive model that encompasses both the Christian and the cultural approach to bereavement counselling.